An important global business center and one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States, Chicago is an international hub for finance, technology, telecommunications, transportation, and more. Between 2013-2016, more corporate relocations and expansions occurred in Chicago than anywhere else in the U.S. The local economy’s continued growth has tightened the Chicago office space market, driving up lease prices. However, the growing demand has led to significant investment in new office space in Chicago, including cutting edge glass skyscrapers on the riverfront and the transformation of Fulton Market.
Chicago Office Space | Rent Prices by Neighborhood
|Office space for lease||Class A||Class B|
|North Michigan Avenue||$44/sf||$36/sf|
Office Space | Chicago Lease Data & Trends
Financial activities, education, and health service sectors continue to expand in the city, and competition for space has been reflected in an increase in Class A asking rents. Chicago is also seeing a swell of smaller companies searching for creative and recently renovated office space that are taking advantage of the high vacancy rates in Class B properties.
West Loop and Fulton Market District are Chicago’s most expensive submarkets. Tenants can expect to pay an average rent of slightly above $50 for Class A office space, compared to the Downtown Chicago average of $48 per square foot.
Fulton Market is one of the most sought-after areas and has an office space inventory of 2.2 million square feet with an additional 1.1 million square feet under construction. Far West Loop is currently the most affordable submarket. Outside of the central business district, O’Hare is one of Chicago’s largest suburban submarkets, where tenants pay an average of $26 per square foot for Class A space and $22 per square foot for Class B offices.
In December 2018, two new Chicago office towers were confirmed. BMO Harris Bank Tower and Salesforce Tower Chicago are set to complete in 2022 and 2023, respectively. These two projects are the most recent in a growing list of new office projects set to complete in the next decade, which now totals six major developments. From 2020 to 2023, Downtown Chicago will see more than 5 million square feet of new office space come to market, totaling nearly 10% of the city’s Class A office space.
Demand for new office space remains high, especially in Fulton Market and the West Loop. In both submarkets, pre-leasing activity has exceeded expectations, which should encourage developers to continue investing to match tenant demand.
Chicago Office Space for Rent | Popular Neighborhoods
Central Loop is one of Chicago’s leading business centers. Major corporations with headquarters in Central Loop include the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, United Continental Holdings, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Hickory Farms, Sprout Social, and PaperSource. Architects and attorneys favor office space in Central Loop, and the Theater District at the top of Central Loop attracts companies in the arts industries. The area has five Metra stations and all CTA trains provide service to the Loop, making it the most accessible district in Chicago. Employees can also access Central Loop via Amtrak, the South Shore Lines, and nearly three dozen buses.
A narrow district that covers the blocks between North State Street and Michigan Avenue as well as the New East Side, East Loop provides immediate access to Millennium Park, Maggie Daley Park, Buckingham Fountain, Grant Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the lakefront. Notable commercial tenants include Getty Images, Hireology, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, and Performics. The district is a short walk from Central Loop and accessible by Lake Shore Drive.
The West Loop is home to one of the city’s main shopping and dining scenes, Union Park, and Greektown. West Loop is an old warehouse district, whose brick and beam office space with open layouts attract many tech companies and startups, including Twitter, LinkedIn, and Threadless. Finance and insurance are also major industries in the district. The Blue, Pink, and Green ‘L’ trains all run through the area, as do the Grand Avenue, Ashland, and Halstead bus routes. The intersection of 1-90 and 1-290 makes the West Loop easily accessible by car.
North Michigan Avenue
This district is named for the street that runs along its western border, nicknamed the “Magnificent Mile.” Famous towers around North Michigan Avenue include the Chicago Water Tower, the Tribune Tower, the Wrigley Building, and the John Hancock Center. Media firms and advertising agencies are concentrated around North Michigan Avenue, including the Chicago Tribune. Taking the Red Line to Grand Station provides direct access to the area, and the Brown, Pink, and Blue lines all stop at nearby stations. A multitude of bus routes and taxis also traverse the neighborhood.
North of the Loop and south of Chicago Avenue, River North shares the Magnificent Mile with the North Michigan Avenue neighborhood and has been heavily influenced by the high-end shopping culture. Design, fashion, production, home goods, and furniture dominate the trendsetting River North submarket. With plenty of old manufacturing and warehouse spaces near the area’s public transit system, River North also attracts tech companies searching for creative loft-style office space, including recent tenant RXBar. The Red and Brown lines, many bus routes, and Lake Shore Drive and Kennedy Expressway provide multiple ways to get to River North.
A small but up-and-coming district sandwiched between the Chicago River and the Kennedy Expressway and bounded by Chicago Avenue to the north, River West’s identity has long been shaped by food distribution centers, wholesalers, warehouses, and loading docks. As the River North culture trickles over, many obsolete spaces are being redeveloped into creative office space and attracting a variety of businesses who also enjoy the area’s growing food and art scenes. The Chicago Blue Line Station sits in the northwest corner, and many bus routes run to the Halstead & Chicago and Milwaukee & Erie bus stations.
Once a food distribution hub, Fulton Market has developed into a significant tech hub with tenants like Google, Mnml, and Glassdoor. Companies looking for spacious, nontraditional offices in Chicago will likely find it in Fulton Market. High demand for the area has contributed to some of Chicago’s most expensive commercial rents, and four new projects composed of over 2.5 million square feet of Fulton Market office space were recently approved for construction. The Ogilvie Transportation Center is less than a mile from Fulton Market. The Green and Pink Lines stop at Morgan Station in the middle of the district.
Home to O’Hare International Airport (ORD), the O’Hare suburb is a popular location for corporate headquarters and includes tenants such as Bally Total Fitness, True Value, U.S. Cellular, and Lafarge North America. O’Hare offers a variety of office spaces that are suitable for every sector, from real estate offices to software companies. Thanks to the presence of ORD, there are plenty transportation options to and from the area, including Metra North Central Service and the Blue Line.
Getting to, From, and Around Chicago, IL
The majority of Chicagoans still commute by car to work. Four major highways feed into Downtown Chicago, along with Lake Shore Drive running parallel with Lake Michigan’s shoreline. Many people use parking and traffic apps to improve their commute in heavy traffic.
Public transportation is the next most common mode of getting around Chicago. Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) operates buses on over 100 routes throughout the city as well as eight lines of the ‘L’ rapid transit system. Commuters from the suburbs have easy access to the heart of Downtown via the Metra commuter rail train.
Many locals enjoy navigating around the city by foot or bike (weather permitting). The lakefront alone offers 26 connected miles of biking and walking trails, and pedestrians and bikers can cut across downtown using The 606 trail, Chicago’s response to Manhattan’s High Line.
Chicago is an ideal location for business travelers. O’Hare International Airport and Chicago Midway International Airport provide flights all over the world and are the two most heavily trafficked airports in the Chicago area. Corporate flyers traveling regionally often prefer booking a flight at Chicago Executive Airport, Gary International Airport, or DuPage Airport, all located within one hour of Downtown Chicago.